30 December 2022

Another Opening, Another Show: January 2023

 Here's hoping everyone had a peaceful & enjoyable holiday season & that the new year, however arbitrary its date, finds us in a good place.

COVID has, of course, not disappeared, but many of the health protocols have, so before you go anywhere check the venue for the latest requirements & assess them against your own level of comfort & risk.

Here's something else I may as well put here: the San Francisco Conservatory of Music has a busy performance schedule, & many of the events are free or low-cost. I don't always list them individually, as the Conservatory has an annoying (to me) tendency not to list any program details, but that needn't stop anyone from going if the performance sounds intriguing. You can check out their full calendar here.


Shotgun Players has extended Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 (by Dave Malloy, directed by Patrick Dooley & Erin Mei-Ling Stuart, with music direction by Daniel Alley) to 5 February.

The New Conservatory Theater presents the world premiere (commissioned by them) of Getting There by Dipika Guha, directed by Nailah Harper-Malveaux, from 20 January to 26 February; the play is about five women visiting or living in Paris & falling in & out of love with each other.

San Francisco Playhouse presents the world premiere of Cashed Out, written by Claude Jackson, Jr & directed by Tara Moses, about a family living on the Gila River Indian Community reservation in Arizona struggling to balance traditional & modern ways, & that's from 26 January to 25 February.

SF Sketchfest 2023 plays at the Great Star Theater from 29 January to 5 February.

Berkeley Rep presents Clyde's by Lynn Nottage, directed by Taylor Reynolds, from 20 January to 26 February, which they describe as a "feel-good comic drama" about "the formerly incarcerated kitchen staff at a truck-stop sandwich shop attempt[ing] to rebuild their lives."

Starting 27 January, Aurora Theater presents Paradise Blue, written by Dominique Morisseau & directed by Dawn Monique Williams, exploring the drama around a Detroit jazz club in 1949.


San Francisco Performances presents musicologist Robert Greenberg in At the Movies, a three-part series exploring music & the movies (not music written for films, but films about musicians): Part 1, centering on Beethoven, is 4 January: Part 2, looking at Liszt & other Romantics (including Hugh Grant as Chopin in Impromptu, a movie I love that doesn't get mentioned much these days) is on 11 January; while Part 3, a miscellaneous array from the baroque to the moderns, is on 25 January; a glass of wine & of course some popcorn are included with each ticket; all sessions are at the Education Studio in the War Memorial complex.


On 21 January in Zellerbach Hall, Cal Performances presents mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato & Il Pomo d’Oro (Zefira Valova, conductor) in Eden (a Cal Performances co-commission), a celebration of the natural world in the form of music by Charles Ives, Rachel Portman (a new work, written for this show), Mahler, Uccellini, Marini, Mysliveček, Copland, Valentini, Cavalli, Gluck, & Handel.

See also Dawn Upshaw with the Brentano String Quartet under Chamber Music.


This a month of guest conductors at the San Francisco Symphony: from 12 to 14 January, Elim Chan leads the band in the world premiere of a Symphony commission, Moondog by Elizabeth Ogonek, along with the Prokofiev Violin Concerto #2 (soloist James Ehnes, who will be offering a Master Class at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on 13 January) & the Tchaikovsky 2; from 20 to 22 January, Robin Ticciati heads the Symphony premiere of Jörg Widmann's Violin Concerto (soloist Alina Ibragimova) & the Mahler 4 (with Ying Fang as soprano soloist); from 26 to 28 January, former Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas rejoins the group for Debussy's Prélude à L’Après-midi d’un faune, Messiaen's Trois petites liturgies de la Présence Divine (with Cynthia Millar on Ondes Martenot), Debussy's Fantaisie for Piano and Orchestra (with piano soloist Jean-Yves Thibaudet in this & the preceding piece), & Heitor Villa-Lobos's Chôros #10.

Daniel Hope leads the New Century Chamber Orchestra in Cinematic Escapes, highlighting music associated with the movies, including Bernard Herrmann's Vertigo, Gershwin's An American in Paris, Tan Dun's Double Concerto (featuring Alexey Botvinov on piano & Hope on violin), & an arrangement of Ennio Morricone's classic spaghetti western scores; & you can hear all that on 19 January at the Osher Marin JCC in San Rafael (there will be a post-concert reception after this concert), 20 January at First Congregational in Berkeley, 21 January at Herbst Theater in San Francisco, & 22 January at Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University (where the Philip Glass Piano Concerto #3 will replace the Dun Double Concerto).

On 27 January at the Paramount Theater, Andrew Grams leads the Oakland Symphony in Rooted in America, a program featuring Florence Price's Five Folksongs in Counterpoint, George Gershwin's Second Rhapsody (with Sara Davis Buechner on piano), & William Dawson's Negro Folk Symphony.

Chamber Music

San Francisco Performances presents Dawn Upshaw & the Brentano String Quartet in Dido Reimagined, in which the Queen of Carthage is explored through musical works by Purcell, Matthew Locke, John Dowland, Thomas Tomkins, William Byrd, Robert Johnson (the Tudor composer, not the celebrated American bluesman), & a contemporary of ours, Melinda Wagner; & that's 12 January at Herbst Theater.

Players from the San Francisco Symphony will perform chamber music by Haydn, Florence Price, Aaron Copland, & Louise Farrenc at Davies Hall on 15 January.

Powerhouse trio Emanuel Ax (piano), Yo-Yo Ma (cello), & Leonidas Kavakos (violin) will perform the Beethoven Symphony 4 (arranged by Shai Wosner) & his Archduke Piano Trio for Cal Performances at Zellerbach Hall on 25 January.

San Francisco Performances continues its Saturday morning lecture/performance series, Music as a Mirror of Our World: Chamber Music at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, with musicologist Robert Greenberg & the Alexander String Quartet, on 28 January at Herbst Theater, with Austria as the focus; the music includes Schoenberg's String Quartet 1 & Webern's Langsamer Satz.

Cal Performances presents the Takács Quartet at Hertz Hall on 29 January, where they will play quartets by Britten, Bartók, & Dvořák (there will also be a pre-concert talk with the artists).

Old First Concerts presents the Ives Collective (Kay Stern & Susan Freier, violins; Clio Tilton, viola; Stephen Harrison, cello; & Elizabeth Schumann, piano) on 29 January, when they will perform works by the Mendelssohns (Fanny & Felix), Florence Price, & Max Bruch.


Violinist Itzhak Perlman with pianist Rohan De Silva will perform pieces by Jean-Marie Leclair, Beethoven (the Kreutzer), & Schumann at Davies Hall (presented by the San Francisco Symphony) on 15 January.

The San Francisco Symphony presents cellist Sterling Elliott with pianist Elliot Wuu at Davies Hall on 18 January, where they will perform works by Bach & Mendelssohn.

Pianist Leif Ove Andsnes is presented by the San Francisco Symphony at Davies Hall on 22 January, where he will perform music by Alexander Vustin, Janáček, Valentin Silvestrov, Beethoven, & Dvořák.

Cal Performances presents pianist Joyce Yang, performing music by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Bach (arranged by Petri), Aaron Jay Kernis (an arrangement on themes by Corigliano & Adamo), & Stravinsky/Agosti, on 22 January at Hertz Hall.

Violinist Johan Dalene with pianist Giorgi Gigashvili, presented by the San Francisco Symphony, will perform works by Grieg, Pärt, & Ravel at Davies Hall on 31 January.

See also Marc-André Hamelin with Other Minds under Modern / Contemporary Music.

Early / Baroque Music

The San Francisco Early Music Society presents Melody of China performing Songs of the Dragon (龍之音), "using traditional Chinese instruments – hammered dulcimers, zithers, fiddles, lutes, mouth organs, and bamboo flutes – and historically informed techniques" to explore the musical traditions of China; you may hear them 6 January at First Presbyterian in Palo Alto, 7 January at First Church in Berkeley, & 8 January at Saint Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco.

On 8 January the Cantata Collective, as part of its free series at Saint Mary Magdalen's in Berkeley, will perform Bach's Sehet, welche eine Liebe (BWV 64) & Schau, lieber Gott, wie meine Feind (BWV 153), with soloists Tonia D'Amelio (soprano), Heidi Waterman (alto), David Kurtenbach Rivera (tenor), & Ben Kazez (bass).

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music presents Acis & Galatea on 19 - 20 January; the website is a bit sparse with details but I assume this is Handel's gorgeous little gem.

Modern / Contemporary Music

Old First Concerts presents pianist Sarah Cahill on 6 January in a program including premieres from Frederic Rzewski, Arlene Sierra, Carolyn Yarnell, & Robert Pollock as well as works by Peter Garland & Rebecca Saunders.

Quinteto Latino (flutist Diane Grubbe, oboist Kyle Bruckmann, clarinetist Leslie Tagorda, bassoonist Shawn Jones, & Armando Castellano, founder & French hornist; guest artist Jamael Smith replaces Jones for this show) will perform their latest commission, The Spanglish Dances by Victor Márquez-Barrios, as well as Puzzle-Tocas by Gabriela Ortiz, multiple winds in the distance by Orlando Jacinto Garcia, & another QL commission, Felipe Nieto-Sáchica’s C U Z A, on 14 January at the Center for New Music.

On 15 January at The Lab, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players present Fire and Water, Shadows and Dust, one in a series of performances centered on visual art & sounds, this time for flute & harp in both solo & duo repertory by Jennifer Higdon, Suzanne Farrin, Luciano Berio, Salvatore Sciarrino, Marcus Norris (a world premiere), Toru Takemitsu, & Roberto Sierra.

On 20 January at Old First Concerts, pianist Chelsea Randall, as part of American Mavericks, her performance & commissioning program dedicated to 20th & 21st Century Black American composers, will perform music by George Walker, Chloe Clarke Smith, Dorothy Rudd Moore, Jonathan Bailey Holland, Joyce Solomon Moorman, & Regina Harris Baiocchi Azuretta.

On 21 January at Littlefield Concert Hall at Mills College in Oakland, Other Minds will celebrate its 30th anniversary with pianist Marc-André Hamelin performing Charles Ives’s Piano Sonata Number 2, Concord, Mass. 1840-60, with commentary by Kyle Gann (composer & author of Charles Ives’s Concord Sonata: Essays after a Sonata; Charles Amirkhanian will host.

On 23 January at Old First Concerts, Earplay presents Mirages, a program featuring Hendel Almetus's Tounen, Linda Bouchard's Katakana, Carla Magnan's Mirages, & Richard Aldag's Songs of Majnun Leyla.

The Left Coast Chamber Ensemble presents Wild Music, exploring the intersection between wintry Nature & music, featuring Janáček's On an Overgrown Path, Series 1, Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring (in the composer's arrangement for four hands on the piano), & three world premieres inspired by the Stravinsky: Trey Makler's get-together, Dean Boursiquot's Hammered, & Jack Langdon's motionless rite; & you can hear that 29 January at the Berkeley Piano Club & 30 January at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.


Trumpeter Chris Botti appears at the SF Jazz Center from 3 to 8 January.

The SF Jazz Center is celebrating its 10th anniversary, & has some all-star events lined up, featuring many artists who appeared in its inaugural concerts a decade ago: on 12 January, there's a tribute to the late pianist & composer McCoy Tyner, featuring saxophonist Joe Lovano, Gary Bartz, Eddie Henderson, Kenny Barron, Gerald Cannon, & Jeff "Tain" Watts; on 13 January there is a tribute to Chick Corea, led by Stanley Clarke; & on 14 January there is a reunion concert of SF Jazz Resident Artistic Directors, featuring Laurie Anderson, Bill Frisell, Marcus Shelby, Terri Lyne Carrington, & Jason Moran.

The Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour celebrates 65 years by coming to Cal Performances & Zellerbach Hall on 18 January, with Christian Sands (pianist & music director), Dee Dee Bridgewater & Kurt Elling  (vocalists), Lakecia Benjamin (alto saxophone), Yasushi Nakamura (bass), & Clarence Penn ( drums).

Pianist Jason Moran is in residence at the SF Jazz Center with a listening party on 18 January; a solo concert on 19 January; a duo concert with saxophonist Archie Shepp on 20 January; a multi-media presentation, James Reese Europe & The Absence Of Ruin, paying tribute to The Hellfighters, an African-American regiment in World War I, with his Bandwagon trio (bassist Tarus Mateen & drummer Nasheet Waits), along with a ten-piece orchestra, on 21 January; & concluding with a Bandwagon trio concert on 22 January.

Trevor Dunn (contrabass) & Phillip Greenlief (woodwinds) will celebrate the release of their new CD, Twenty Seven (the title is the number of years the two have been playing together) at the Center for New Music on 22 January; the show opens with Sally Gates giving the premiere of Thought and Terraform for solo guitar.

The latest Marsalis, Jason, brings himself & his band (Joe Goldberg on clarinet, Kris Tokarski on piano, & Gerald Watkins on drums) to the SF Jazz Center from 26 to 29 January.

The Alaya Project (percussionist Rohan Krishnamurthy, saxophonist Prasant Radhakrishnan, & Colin Hogan providing what the website describes as the "harmonic bedrock") will perform at the Center for New Music on 28 January.


San Francisco Ballet launches three programs this month, making up nine world premieres by nine choreographers, as part of their Next@90 celebration: the first set, running from 20 January to 11 February, includes Haffner Serenade, choreography by Robert Garland to music by Mozart, Resurrection, choreography & scenic design by Jamar Roberts to music by Mahler, & Madcap, choreography by Danielle Rowe to music by Pär Hagström (arranged by Philip Feeney); the second set, running from 21 January to 8 February, includes Emergence, choreography by Val Caniparoli to music by Dobrinka Tabakova, The Queen's Daughter, choreography by Bridget Breiner to music by Benjamin Britten, & Bolero, choreography by Yuka Oishi to music by Ravel, with additional music by Shinya Kiyokawa; the third set, running from 25 January to 7 February, includes Gateway to the Sun, choreography by Nicolas Blanc to music by Anna Clyne, Kin, choreography by Claudia Schreier to music by Tanner Porter, & Violin Concerto, choreography by Yuri Possokhov to music by Stravinsky.


The Pacific Film Archive part of BAM/PFA has, as usual, some exciting series coming up: 

Elegy to Seijun Suzuki actually began in December, & somehow I checked the BAM/PFA calendar at the wrong time (too early, perhaps?) & missed this, as well as a Buster Keaton series; unfortunately the Keaton has wrapped up but there are still a couple of Suzuki's films scheduled for this month: 

Out of the Vault: Everything’s Ephemeral launches on 14 January & "focuses on home movies, educational films, orphan films, promos, fragments – short films made for classrooms, libraries, and living rooms. They are personal works intended for an intimate audience"; 

The Cinema of the Absurd: Eastern European Film, 1958–89 launches on 12 January & focuses on films from Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, Poland, Hungary, the former East Germany, & both parts of the former Czechoslovakia;

The Algerian War of Independence: Cinema as History launches on 18 January & explores different perspectives on the anti-colonial liberation war in Algeria; &

for the sake of its interest I'm violating my usual rule about not listing shows that are sold out: Joel Cohen will be at the PFA in person from 21 to 29 January, hosting a series of movies by himself & others (you can always check out the list & watch along at home; I think most of these are readily available).

Friday Photo 2022/52


sunset, looking towards San Francisco from an Oakland office tower, December 2022

26 December 2022

Museum Monday 2022 bonus


detail of a Meissen porcelain statue of Saint Wenceslas, patron saint of Bohemia, now in the Legion of Honor, San Francisco

I'm posting this year-end bonus as today is the feast of Saint Stephen, the day on which Wenceslas "looked out", in the words of the increasingly obscure Christmas carol, which I posted about here

Museum Monday 2022/52


detail of Virgin & Child by Dieric Bouts, in the Legion of Honor, San Francisco

19 December 2022

Museum Monday 2022/51


detail from the central panel of a Last Judgement triptych by an Unknown Tyrolean Master, now in the Legion of Honor, San Francisco

("judgment" is the usual spelling in American English but I am following the museum's lead)

12 December 2022

09 December 2022

05 December 2022

Museum Monday 2022/49


detail of Shaped Dishes in Imari Taste, an eighteenth-century English imitation of Japanese porcelain, now at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco